Car covered in snow

Do I need to warm up my car in the winter?

Winter is here and so are the cold temperatures. From below-freezing temperatures to wind chill advisories, ’tis the season for frigid days. On cold days like these should you warm your car up before you drive? Is it a positive thing or are you doing more harm than good?

Can warming up your car harm the engine?Vehicle driving on a snowy day

Everyone has a very different idea of what it means to “warm up” their car. For some it means to have the heater cranked on in an effort to warm up the vehicle’s cabin and engine at the same time. For others, it means to let the vehicle idle in order to warm up the engine.

There has been a common misconception today that drivers have to warm up their vehicle before they drive by letting it idle. This idea was popular when most vehicles used a carbureted engine, which did need some time to warm up before you could drive the vehicle. You can still find these engines on classic vehicles. Thirty years ago, if you didn’t let your car with a carbureted engine under the hood idle for a few minutes the car could stall on you.

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Today, most vehicles on the road use an internal combustion engine. The best way to “warm up” a vehicle with this type of engine is by driving it. To do this, you can let the vehicle idle for about 30 seconds, then slowly start to drive. The last thing you want to do is rev a cold engine. With that said, will you harm your car, truck or SUV if you don’t let it idle for 30 seconds? No. By the time you turn your car on, scrape some ice from the windshield and then get back behind the driver’s seat and you will be ready to roll.

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Do you have another question for our team of experts about automotive maintenance? Let us know in the comments below! From all of us at Palmen Motors, thanks for reading!